Opioid Substitution Therapy enables better health care

Waitemata District Health Board (New Zealand's largest Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centres) maintains electronic patient records for all Mental Health & Addiction Services using Intrahealth’s ‘HCC’ clinical enterprise information solution. Clinicians working across the three Auckland District Health Boards (Counties Manakau, Waitemata, and Auckland) have access to all patient records except for opioid treatment plans and opioid prescribed medications. Dispensing pharmacies and health care practitioners also share the support for this group and need access to up-to-date history and interventions to provide timely clinical care.

The Challenge

The existing system for managing opioid therapy simply wasn’t keeping up to the task. It was poorly integrated into any other system used to capture clinical information and caused challenges with care delivery.

“It was a standalone, end-of-life system, limited solely to prescribing and managing methadone substitution. It was time to search for other technology options.” Fay Cunningham – Waitemata DHB.

The Solution

After researching the market and evaluating the pros and cons of interoperability or product expansion, WDHB decided the best, most cost-effective solution would be to work with Intrahealth on extending the existing system. Extending the current electronic healthcare record system would facilitate a complete integrated tool that would handle the region’s unique health care delivery model.

Intrahealth’s implementation team engaged a group of doctors, key workers, pharmacists, and administration staff, to design a user interface based on workflows. The team examined current processes, identified gaps, drafted wish-lists, and aligned to the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s regulations. Collaboratively, we developed detailed specifications for the multi-disciplinary workflows and functionality.

Intrahealth costed out the scope of work to embed the new functionality into the existing system. While we worked through many custom tweaks and delivery iterations, the Intrahealth team supported WDHB to test and release a build candidate that satisfied our unique needs.

"We expanded our current Intrahealth medical software for managing patient care to include Opioid Substitution Therapy which streamlines treatment plans and tracks prescribed medications. The result is a cost-effective and improved care solution that aligns with our core values.” Fay Cunningham, Waitemata District Health Board

The Benefits

Building on existing and accepted technology significantly reduced a wide range of licensing and implementation costs. While scope creep was inevitable with growing wish-lists, minor modifications were supported through the ‘virtual development environment’ inside of the software solution. We were able to extend functionality from within the solution with agility and relatively inexpensively. 

Engaging early with the people who would use the system had significant positive impact on the design and functionality. Expanding the current system minimised change resistance and training requirements. WDHB could now provide the right information at the right time to the right people.

The Result

Software costs were kept low by maximising known trusted technology that delivered a tailored care solution improving the quality, safety, and experience for the community served. With Intrahealth’s software solution, our treatment centres and record-keeping are significantly more efficient than ever, meet legal requirements, and adhere to high ethical and quality standards.

The Waitemata District Health Board (WDHB) serves a diverse community of over 630,000 people and is mandated to improve quality, safety, and experience of care and best value for public health system resources. District Health Boards aim to show social responsibility, foster community participation in health improvement, and uphold high ethical and quality standards.”